Throughout history the world has produced an overwhelming variety of religions and religious traditions. Unfortunately,
this variety has often been the basis for contention rather than community. The tendency towards hostility among
various religious positions is connected to an inherent intolerance of difference. Because religious intolerance has
often been the precurser to wars and mass acts of violence, it is a significant issue to address. Finding tolerance
for different religious beliefs is essential in acheiving peace.
The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees freedoms of religion, speech, writing and publishing,
peaceful assembly, and the freedom to raise grievances with the Government. In addition, it requires that a wall of separation
be maintained between church and state. It reads:
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging
the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for
a redress of grievances."
Visit http://www.religioustolerance.org for more information.
This link will take you to the USC Shoah Foundation where you can watch testimonials from holocaust survivors and find out
more about religious intolorance and ethnic discrimination.
The Escalation of Hate
1. At times, we are all confronted with situations where someone else is behaving badly and we aren't sure whether to
intervene or not. Maybe it's a friend who makes a joke about how Jewish people have big noses. If we do not let
the friend know that this is offensive, we are condoning the behavior. In fact, these "acts of subtle bias"
are actually the first mistakes we make in living in a world that is hate free.
THOUGHTS ARE POWERFUL!
They allow us to dehumanize the individual and turn them into a simple stereotype in our minds.
We have to intervene. Elie Wiesel, a Holocaust survivor, says:
"All that it takes for evil to exist is for good people to do nothing."
2. The next step towards hate is actually participating in prejudiced behaviors - stereotyping, avoiding people based
on their race, religion, sexual orientation etc. and calling people derrogatory names. These are "acts of prejudice
3. Third, we begin to participate in "acts of discrimination." We don't hire someone because of
their religion or perceived ability. We refuse to rent an apartment to an elderly person or we scapegoat an entire ethnic
group for some social problem (like Mexicans are all taking good American jobs and that's why we have unemployment.)
4. Number four is the actual participation in "acts of violence." These include terrorism, assault,
vandalism, rape, arson, etc.
5. The last and most intense level of hatred is "genocide." Genocide is the deliberate extermination
of an entire people.